By Jim Winnerman Special to the Post-Dispatch
Mark Schupp has the perfect mix of interests for his goal of playing each of the 386 golf courses in Missouri. He loves this sport, as he started playing when he was 10 years old. He loves his homeland, has an innate curiosity for exploring back roads and enjoys discovering unusual places to eat.
But more importantly, Schop, 66, of Creve Coeur, feels that playing and reporting on each course is his way of bringing something back to the state he was born in, graduated from, and had success in business. He was a brand manager at Anheuser-Busch and later started his own advertising agency.
The idea for his personal tour of golf was born when he was traveling between Kansas City and St. Louis and passing the Midway golf complex west of Columbia alongside Interstate 70. “I always thought I wanted to stop and play the course,” he recalls.
When he retired in 2014, his chance of stopping at Columbia became a reality and he quickly turned into a goal of 386 times greater than playing a single course. Schupp began practicing golf to achieve his goal in 2016, and by 2019 he had played nearly all of the ties in the state before the remaining courses were suspended due to COVID.
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Today, Schupp has nine more courses to play, which he will do in the fall. “Missouri not only has a stock of courses for any level of players, but we have some of the best courses in the country,” he says. “As many golf courses as those in other states can easily be created.”
He usually used a chariot to play two to three laps a day whenever possible. “I play fast and try to play on my own when I’m reviewing a course,” he says. “I play on every hole unless there’s a slow group ahead, and then I skip that hole.” Once the clubs learned of his quest to play all Missouri tournaments, even private ones let him in.
Schop soon realized that if he was going to pass on his experiences to interested golfers, he would need a website, so he enrolled in a course on web coding and design at Meramec Community College. Don’t bother that it took 10 hours to do what his little teammates can accomplish in 10 minutes, because the result is an easy-to-use guide found in MoGolfTour.com.
Want to know what courses are in any city in Missouri? Click the page that lists courses by city, and the course or courses in that city will appear. Then click on the course and a Schupp review will appear, complete with photos and key stats like course length, number of holes, website, phone number, and more.
Particularly interesting is the map on which the Missouri courses are located. “It doesn’t matter where you are in the state, there is a course, or several, near you,” says Schop, looking at a computer printout of the website. “There are two courses at the lower end of the Missouri Bootheel on the border with Tennessee, Arkansas, and Kentucky, and here is one near Missouri’s border with Iowa and Nebraska in the opposite corner of the state.”
Schupp also rates each course using golf balls in place of stars. The one-ball rating is the lowest, while the five-ball rating is the highest.
“I am particularly proud that the club’s professionals tell me that my feedback on their course is accurate and fair,” says Schup.
Jason Marcinek, chief pro golfer at Norwood Hills, says he knows many people trying to play the top 50 or 100 courses rated by Golf Digest, but he’s never heard of anyone who’s played all the courses in any one state. .
“Honestly, I’m not sure which one is more challenging,” he says. “I am very envious. For anyone who can set out to do this, and making it is such an amazing feat, Mark has taken it one step further with his website.”
Anyone who uses the site will be surprised to find that it is free to use. “We get about 50,000 hits a year, and if you search for ‘golf course reviews in Missouri,’ we’re the first to show up,” he says. “But I didn’t do this to make money from it, although there’s no doubt I could. I see it as a useful tool for golfers and a way to boost the state. I love the game and I’m happy to do it.”
State Senator Brian Williams of St. Louis County is a regular avid Webshop user. Playing golf consistently for three years, Williams uses it to preview the courses he is interested in playing and determine if they are suitable for his level of playing.
“It’s amazingly easy to use even if you’re not a tech savvy,” he says. “Mark has pictures of each course, describes the fairways and greens, and at times delves into the hospitality of the staff and food at the club.”
Among the public courses in Missouri, the Buffalo Ridge Springs course in Branson is among the few courses with Schupp’s highest “five ball” rating. His review states that they are the “Mona Lisa” golf courses in Missouri. The views are stunning, and every detail was taken into account when designing and maintaining this course.”
Springfield-owned Rivercut Municipal Golf Course is also among his favorites. His review rated the course on four balls, and stated that “the person who operated the dredge when building the stadium was an artist, taking a white cloth from the river bed and carving each hole into a separate work of art. Every place you look is something special and unique.”
Closer to St. Louis, Tapawingo in St. Louis County is ranked among the top five public Schupp courses in the state.
The private Dalhousie Golf Club at Cape Girardeau is rated as a 4-ball, and it makes its list among the best private courses in the state. Bellerive in Town and Country is also among the top five private courses and has the same rating, while St. Louis Country Club has the top five and four balls.
Schop is a member of the Norwood Country Club in Jennings, which ranks four balls. “I am proud to be a member for a number of reasons,” he says. First, there are two 18-hole courses, so you can always go out to play with minimal waiting, and every course is completely different.”
“The second reason to join Norwood Hills is because of the people, both the staff and the staff. They are not pretentious, and I could even wear flip-flops in the pub. This is worth the price of admission alone!”
With all the courses played, there were bound to be those with unique holes. Especially do not forget about the holes with trees in unexpected places. At the New Madrid Country Club, the 10th hole has a huge tree 84 yards from the tee in the middle of the fairway, with no space on either side.
At Windmill Golf Course in Clark, a stand of mature trees is across one fairway. “The aperture you have to get into is about 180 inches,” he said, still somewhat intimidated.
At Elsberry at the Sun Valley Course, the fifth hole is 720 yards and 6 inches is rare.
Although Schupe rates Holden’s Redneck Country Club “one ball,” he says it’s one of his favorite courses in the state. “It’s not just golf. The interior of the club looks more like a rustic dance floor. There are many types of local events and activities. Outside, there is a horseshoe shaped hole, a platform for live entertainment and other activities. If you want a very different golf experience, I guess It’s worth driving.”
In Fayette, the home field is a large field with virtually no gaps between holes. “There are no harsh roads, or perhaps no fair roads. Who knows? The only break is a high hill that is a tee box and a sandy green that is round and flat.”
“You’d probably play from the back of a pickup truck,” continues Schop, before defending the course as an opportunity for this very rural community to play golf and describing the beautifully maintained town square and county courthouse as American as it gets.
Along the way, Schupp has rounded up a variety of dining venues, occasionally making it into a course review. Noteworthy is the Lucky J Steakhouse and Arena in Carthage where you dine overlooking a plaza and watch cowboys and cowboys rehearse the rodeo. “I remember sitting there thinking how unusual it was to have dinner in a place like this,” he says.
Jill, Schaup’s wife, is a senator. “She doesn’t play, but she accompanied me on some trips and arranged to meet local politicians and citizens while playing,” says Schup. “It worked out wonderfully for her.”
Readers wondering how good a golfer is will want to know that he rates himself “above average,” and says he usually scores between 78 and 88. Currently his handicap is 10.8, he says, adding that he was “playing” poorly at Recently “.
Number of courses in Missouri: 386
Number of semi-private and private courses 141
Number of public courses: 243
Number of military courses: 2
Courses to earn Schupp ratings for:
Top 5 Schupp Private Courses:
1. Porto Sima, Sunrise Beach
3. Bellerive, city and country
4. St. Louis Country Club
5. Dalhousie, Cape Girardeau
Top 5 public courses at Schupp
1. Buffalo Ridge Springs, Branson
2. Tiffany Greens, Kansas City
3. Eagle Knoll, Hartsburg
4. Shoal Creek, Kansas City
5. Tapawingo, Sunset Hills